The problems Manchester City have faced in the Champions League this season have been numerous. They have struggled against much more experienced European sides and have at times looked totally out of their depth. However, a few simple adjustments could give them a great chance of winning the competition.
The first change City need to make is have a settled system and formation. There were far too many examples of Roberto Mancini changing the way the team played in the middle of games this season. The system needs to support the best part of the City side which is the creative midfield and attack. Gear the side up to score goals and they will flow.
City’s defence scored ten goals which is only two goals less than Ajax who are one place above them. The defence has to be rock solid because there are some very talented strikers playing Champions League football which City found out big time this season. Keeping the defence tight, limiting the space between defenders and moving as a unit all need to be things which regularly happen.
The home form has to change. City drew all of their group games at home which is never going to see a team through to the last 16 or get them anywhere near the level they need to be to beat the best sides. Playing at home is where teams get their natural advantage in the Champions League and it will take the pressure off of City as they go into tough away fixtures that require a different style of play.
It sounds obvious but the team has to do the basics well. One of the reasons teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Manchester United always play well in the tournament is because they keep things simple, they retain the ball well, make simple passes and they are patient as they wait for chances to kill off a game.
City were far too willing at times to try and destroy the opposition this season in a blaze of glory. The perfect example of this was the match against Borussia Dortmund at home where City were routinely caught on the counter attack as they left huge spaces in behind the defence which should have been exploited a lot more than Dortmund actually managed.
City have a squad filled with quality players, they have a decent manager and a solid set of supporters. It’s simple changes that need to happen if the club wants to have any chance of winning this tournament in the next few seasons.
image: © Andrew Brannan